Lukashenko heads for victory in Belarus presidential election

Incumbent Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko holds a strong lead in Belarus presidential elections and looks poised to claim a fourth term, according to exit polls.

Exit polls on Sunday showed Lukashenko gained 72.03% of the vote while his closest rival Andrei Sannikov won just 6.33%, said the head of the ECOOM analytical center, Sergei Musienko.

Grigory Kostuchev won 1.49%, Ales Mikhalevich - 0.84%, Vladimir Nekliaev - 4.49%, Yaroslav Romanchuk - 3.36%, Vitaly Rymashevsky - 1.64%, Nikolai Statkevich - 1.6%, Viktor Tereshenko - 1.96% and Dmitry Uss - 0.47%.

The exit poll results were available as of 13:00 p.m. local time (10:00 GMT). The poll was conducted at 100 polling stations and involved 4,431 electors, he said.

To win the election, a candidate must gain over 50% of the vote, and turnout must be at least 50%.

Earlier on Sunday, Chairwoman of the Belarus Central Election Commission Lidya Yermoshina said the elections were recognized as valid. She said no violations were observed during the polls.

A total of 65.2% of voters have cast their ballots as of 14:00 p.m. local time (11:00 GMT)

Lukashenko has led the ex-Soviet republic since 1994, largely relying on Russia-subsidized energy supplies. He won three landslide victories in the 1994, 2001 and 2006 elections.

This year, some 930 international observers and 18,000 local observers have been accredited to monitor the elections. The polls are covered by over 600 foreign journalists.

MINSK, December 19 (RIA Novosti)


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